Do you have a Kevin Pietersen in your team? A brilliant player with many examples of glorious and inspiring play, but so apparently idiosyncratic and demanding that the selectors have expelled him from the England team? Will his expulsion result in a better team performance? Only time will tell.

Perhaps you know of individual consultants who are technically brilliant but interpersonally difficult if things don’t go their way – and not just in the operating theatre. They find working in a team challenging because they have to tolerate being challenged; decisions are often team-based rather than based on their expert opinion; and they aren’t always given the leeway they believe they need to perform at their best. Without arguing the pros and cons of team working, such an environment is very difficult for someone whose independence is curtailed and who has to implement a decision they absolutely do not believe is the best one. It’s especially difficult if this person is a surgeon who despite the team decision, still takes ultimate responsibility for the patient outcome. Many consultants are independent (and indeed they have been trained to take independent decisions) but not all consultants find themselves in conflict with others. These latter individuals probably have sufficient insight to recognise how their behaviour impacts others and they are able to moderate it – to self-regulate – and adjust their interpersonal skills and manage their annoyance in a way that does not alienate them from their team.

If Kevin Pietersen possessed as much insight as he does cricketing talent he would probably still be in the team playing great cricket and inspiring others to even higher levels of performance – who knows?

by Dr. Megan Joffe